The Internet is filled with advice for how to become a better writer. Some are good, others not so much.
In this episode of the Am Writing Fantasy podcast, Autumn and Jesper share the best of them and try their hardest to agree on one winning tip. It's not as easy as it might sound.
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Read the full transcript below.
(Please note that it's automatically generated and while the AI is super cool, it isn't perfect. There may be misspellings or incorrect words on occasion).
Narrator (1s): You're listening to the Am Writing Fantasy podcast. In today's publishing landscape, you can reach fans all over the world. Query letters are a thing of the past. You don't even need a literary agent. There is nothing standing in the way of making a living from writing. Join two best selling authors who have self published more than 20 books between them now on to the show with your hosts, Autumn Birt, and Jesper Schmidt.
Jesper (30s): Hello. I'm Jesper.
Autumn (31s): And, I'm Autumn.
Jesper (34s): This is episode 142 of the Am Writing Fantasy podcast. And I've actually been looking forward to this conversation, Autumn.
Autumn (43s): Oh, really? This one kind of took me by surprise. I had to look at it this morning. I'm like, oh, I need to come up with some tips. So I did come up with a few and I'm now excited to, to talk about it. But at first I was like, geez, this is so broad. Where do we start?
Jesper (1m 3s): That was why I was looking forward to it because I was curious to see what you've come up with. And, and we're talking about the best thing to do every day to become a better writer. So this is going to be interesting.
Autumn (1m 16s): It will. I think I came up with some stuff that I'm like, yeah, that's a good tip. So I can't wait to find out what you came up with us. You always research, plan it a little bit more than I do.
Jesper (1m 31s): That doesn't necessarily make it better, but at least I try, I put in the effort at least.
Autumn (1m 36s): That's right. And it's not that I don't have the effort. I just, I, I intensify my effort into a shorter amount of time.
Jesper (1m 44s): Yeah. Like five minutes before we record.
Autumn (1m 47s): It wasn't that bad. It was just a few hours ago.
Jesper (1m 55s): Well, okay. So it's only a few hours ago that I did it, to be honest. Okay. Hey, this'll be interesting. Yeah. How are you going to have something planned? Yes, we can plan. Yeah. So we'll see how that goes. Well, I'm doing okay. I w I was out doing my kayaking course again earlier this week I had to strain the muscle. Oh no. Well is one on my left side of my torso based somewhere. I, I don't, I don't know quite where it is, but it's like, when it happened, you know, I felt it right away. Something like happened in the muscles.
Jesper (2m 38s): Like, but then it didn't hurt too much. Then it was more like, it was just a smaller inconvenience, like, oh, it's okay. But then, you know, one night, once I got back home afterwards and I had taken a shower and I guess my muscles weren't in use anymore, then it started to become really sore. And then a Wednesday morning here, it was just like, oh my God, I slept bad all night. Because every time I turned, I woke up and it was the same last night. So it's starting to feel a bit better. Now I can move my arms around, like without hurting now. So it's, but it's still, if I do the wrong, like move, then I can still feel it.
Jesper (3m 18s): But I don't know. These past two days, I've actually taken some naps just to keep up with the last hours of sleep at night.
Autumn (3m 26s): Geez. That is pretty bad for you. That's what you're doing like a roller or was it just paddling?
Jesper (3m 33s): No, I think it was when, well, because it's, it's the cost of we're checking now. So we also practicing, falling into the water and getting back up on the kayak on purpose and stuff like that. And I think it was one of the times when I was getting back up, I think when I jumped up onto the kayak or something, I think that was when something happened. But yeah, I don't know. It's just a, I mean, it's funny because my wife has been teasing me because she started the kayaking like six months before me. And when she come back, when she came back from kayaking, she was all this like, really like tired. And, you know, you could, you could just see the workout on her, how tired she was.
Jesper (4m 18s): And, and then, and I was always like, well, is it really that hard because you don't get your, you know, you don't get your pulse up. You're not out of breath or anything. Right. And, and now she's just laughing at me all the time, because when I get back, I'm just like, oh, my muscles are so, because you're using all kinds of muscles that you don't normally use. And so I'm just so sore when I go, go back and really, really tired from spending a couple of hours out on the sea. So she, she, she, for some reason she finds it incredibly amusing. Now it's like I told you,
Autumn (4m 50s): You know, it comes back around, but I will say, I, you know, my mom always told me that there's something about sea air. That just makes you tired as well. So
Jesper (4m 59s): It does indeed.
Autumn (4m 60s): I will. I, you know, you can always bring that up, say it makes you tired. Hello. Imagine the shock of the cold water would, you know, kind of take a lot out of you too.
Jesper (5m 15s): Well, well you have, well, I don't know what the English words, but you have the gear on, you know, so it's not really cool. I don't know what it's called though. The wetsuit, I guess it's called a wetsuit, isn't it?
Autumn (5m 25s): Yeah.
Jesper (5m 25s): That's one of the times you have a wetsuit on. Okay. So it's not that cold. Really? Yeah. That's okay. That's cool. But, but it's more the workout of it and all that using muscles that I don't normally use. I run a lot of course, because I'm a referee, as people have probably heard me talk about million times before on this podcast. So running I'm very used to, and I'm very using used to using my leg muscles, but here you really use your upper body all the time, which I'm not used to do. So I can feel that. I bet.
Autumn (5m 58s): Yeah. I know. Even
Jesper (5m 58s): With my little bit of exercise program I've been doing, I, one day is like abs and legs and the next day is upper body. And you can feel, it takes two days to, to work out. I mean, not nearly as bad as the first week I started the first day. It did take me two or three days. I really filled it. But now that I'm in, like my second, yeah. Second week, almost the end of my second week doing it. It's rare when I have a day where I'm like, oh, but I did do something with my upper back arms. Cause again, you're not used to using some of those muscles and doing some weird down plank move and I'm like, that's not even possible. And yeah, it tends to be a little twin to the next day.
Jesper (6m 39s): Go figure. Especially as writers who just sits in front of a computer all the time
Autumn (6m 45s): Writer, graphic designer. Yeah. Website builder. I, I need my exercise program, my spare time online.
Jesper (6m 56s): But otherwise things are going okay on UN you had a storm coming or something, didn't you?
Autumn (7m 0s): Yeah. Well, we just had the remnants of hurricane Ida go through and it wasn't actually that bad up here, but yeah, some people died in New York and my parents in Pennsylvania, they had three days of rain and their basement started flooding. So it was bad. But what further west? I think of them. It, the whole town was flooded through, so it was pretty intense. But yeah, we have like, we've went from the eighties and like super high humidity. It was like 89. And like, it felt like the rainforest again, which we've had almost all of August. And then overnight, it blew out after a whip tail end of Ida. And it I've been wearing flat all it's it feels like September it is cool and Chile and I'm thrilled, but I was like, okay, we've gone from high humidity and really steamy, warm to, Hey, it's new England and we're in the fall.
Autumn (7m 55s): Just not ready for that. It's good. At least I've had my excitement this week is I've been preparing for Vermont's fantasy con, which is coming up October 2nd and third there's any other new England authors, fantasy authors or readers, which most of us are readers come to Burlington, October 2nd and third, I'm going to be there. I'm going to be on panels and talking. I think we're doing a lot of podcasts. I somehow signed myself up for everything, including organizing a paperback, give away. I don't know. I just, it's my nature. I get excited, but I've done all new swag. I just ordered new bookmarks for my two series and some new banners and a new tabletop display ordered all my books.
Autumn (8m 37s): So I have all this author stuff coming and I'm going to, I'll have to do some like unpacking boxes and videos because I am so excited to get author swag. It'll be great.
Narrator (8m 49s): Oh, a week on the internet with the M writing fantasy podcast.
Jesper (8m 55s): And we have also, apart from all that other stuff, you have ongoing there, autumn. And we also started a brand new initiative here. We decided for, for the podcast. And I don't know, maybe you want to explain what that is all about. Autumn.
Autumn (9m 8s): Again, you're not preparing me. This was originally my idea. So I think I can wing this one, but you did,
Jesper (9m 14s): You can manage.
Autumn (9m 15s): Alright. So I know this idea. I was reading some really good books this summer. So I'm like award-winning novels that were just, I wanted to talk about them with other authors, just pull them apart because that is the best way to learn. It's like I maybe I'm missing like those college courses, the ones that never actually happened to were actually fun where you could really look at a novel and pull out it's world building C. Why, why is this novel selling so well, why do readers love it? So I wanted to start a CRA authors critical reading group because critical reading, like really don't just reading a book and say, oh, that was good. And tossing it aside and reading the next one, but really asking questions and pulling it apart and looking at the point of views and the trends, the tropes, everything that's going on in it that makes us novel tick.
Autumn (10m 1s): And why it's really is captivating as it is doing that with other authors is a fantastic way to learn. And it's gone through a few different iterations as we try to pull this together. And you came up with the idea of somehow pulling it into the podcast. And I'm so excited about this.
Jesper (10m 21s): Yeah, I think after almost 150 podcast episodes, it was a time to it's time to shake things up a little. So what we decided to do was basically that once a month, we will pick a book that we are going to read. I'm going to explain the books for October, just in a second. And then we will read one of these books that gets picked, which is going to be picked by you, the audience in the am, writing phase fantasy Facebook group, and also for the patron supporters, you'll be able to vote once a month on which book we should pick. And then obviously it would be awesome if you want to read along. So you can read the book while we also reading the book, and then we will dedicate one podcast episode a month to basically do a bit of critical discussion around that book that Western chosen.
Jesper (11m 13s): And if you're a patron supported and you will be able to actually submit your views as well before the episode recording happens. So we will basically take your inputs on board as well, probably read maybe not all of it, but probably some of it aloud on the podcast and discuss your points of view as well. So that's sort of the idea and to kick things off, we already, by the time this podcast episode airs, we already did the voting. So for this month, you're too late, but if you're in the am writing a Facebook group, you will have seen it. Or if you're a patron supporter, you will, you will have seen it. And if you're not in the group, then get in there. So the next month, at least you will see the voting when it comes up, but we will be reading one of the following three books.
Jesper (12m 0s): It's either going to be the lies of Locke Lamorah by Scott Lynch. And that this book has over 5,500 reviews on Amazon, us with five dot five star ratings. So that's pretty damn good book, apparently
Autumn (12m 15s): World building, oh my gosh, the world building in that one.
Jesper (12m 19s): Yeah. Or if we are going to read the fifth season by NK Jemisin, and this is not only a Hugo award-winning fantasy novel, each book in the series has also been aboard water separately. So it has over 7,000 reviews on Amazon and afforded a five star rating. And that's the second option. And the last option is shadow and bone by Lee Baidu go, I guess that's how you say it, something like that. Well, it's basically the books behind the Netflix series shadow and bone, and this book has over 9,000, 19,500 views.
Jesper (12m 59s): That's crazy popular. Yeah. So by the time this episode airs, the voting will have finished. But right now that while we are recording, it has not. So I can't say which one it's going to be picked, but just go into Dave M writing fantasy Facebook group. And if you're not a member already just get in there and you can find the post where we will have announced by the time that this episode goes out, we will announce in the Facebook group, which of the books is picked. And then you can, you can buy that book as well, and you can read along. And then in October we will then have a podcast episode where we basically discuss what we've, what we thought about the book.
Jesper (13m 39s): And there were some critical discussion around it.
Autumn (13m 42s): Yes. And I'm so looking forward to it and you want to join the Facebook group anyway, because the discussion after the podcast will carry on in the group. So that way we'll have an ongoing discussion with other authors about the tropes and the trends and the characters and all the things we learned by reading this book.
Jesper (13m 59s): Yeah. So does this a bit of an experiment trying to shake things up a bit in terms of a podcast episodes for you going forward here? So we're very curious of course, to see how this goes and if people enjoy it. And if people will actually start reading along and communicating in the Facebook group about they have use of the Brooklyn so on, and we, we hope that it's going to be a bit interactive in the sense that us listeners, I engaged with the stuff that we're doing here as well, because I think that would be quite entertaining and funny for everybody. And if you do, as I said, if you do want your comments and viewpoints of the book to be included in the discussion here between autumn and myself, you need to get on Patrion.
Jesper (14m 40s): It, it goes down to as little as a dollar a month. So it doesn't really cost much at all. But $1 a month on Patrion will allow you to submit your views of the books as well. And there is a link in show notes to Patrion. So go and check that one out. There's also all kinds of other things rewards that we're offering to support us there. So, and speaking of patron, we also want to offer a huge thank you to Steven for becoming a patron supporter.
Autumn (15m 12s): Welcome.
Jesper (15m 12s): Yeah. It's because of people like used, even that we keep this podcast going. So thank you so much for your support on Patrion.
Autumn (15m 20s): We appreciate having you there
Narrator (15m 27s): And onto today's topic.
Jesper (15m 28s): Ah, so like you also said at the top order, and there's so many ways you could approach this topic and there's probably loads of things. One could do to become a better writer. And I've definitely collected a few things here and I was sort of thinking we could just go over what we eat, have autumn. And then by the end, we can see if we can sort of agree on one of the things that is the best of them, all sort of.
Autumn (15m 57s): So you want to come off or try alternate. Yeah. Well, I have a feeling there's at least a couple top ones that will really help you become a better writer.
Jesper (16m 8s): Yeah. Maybe B B, honestly, I feel like at least the ones I tried to only pick like stuff that I've thought was fairly important, but I'm really struggling to figure out if one of them are better than the other, but let's see. Let's see how we, how we go.
Autumn (16m 24s): Okay. Okay. Sounds good. Do you want to alternate or just read off our lists or describe things, how you want to do it
Jesper (16m 31s): Now? Let's alternate a bit. That's fun.
Autumn (16m 34s): I all right. And do you want to start with the top top one or do you want to like do the more
Jesper (16m 40s): Oh, well, if you can, you can do that if, but I have not, at least I have not mine listed in order of importance is just random order mine. So, but if you can do that. Yeah.
Autumn (16m 50s): Yeah. I think I, like I said, I have one or two that I think are the definite things that really, these are the things you have to do to become a better writer. So I can start at the bottom of my list. Okay. All right. You ready? Yeah, I'm ready. All right. So I think one of the things that is in a general, something that is going to make you a better writer is to write something that you're actually interested in. And the reason is if you aren't enjoying it, you won't put in the effort that you might have otherwise. And you would just, you don't make as much time for it. You'll just kind of maybe just, oh great. I have to do five minutes. Great. And you'll just, you know, word vomit, some stuff out and be done with it. But if you write something you're actually passionate about, don't worry about the marketing yet.
Autumn (17m 33s): If you really want to learn to be a better writer, enjoy the craft, put in some love and time and write something. You love, write something you would love to read. And I think you will become a better writer because you'll put so much time and effort into it.
Jesper (17m 49s): Hmm. Yeah. Actually I can cross one of my off the list basically more or less with that. I worded it slightly different, but I think it's the same thing I was talking about trying to write something that sort of sits in the middle of that Venn diagram between what you love, but also what readers want to read. I mean, if you're just, I guess if you're just writing for yourself, then don't worry about what readers want to read. But if you want to earn a bit of money from it, I think understanding the market and what readers want, that will also make you a better writer. That's true. Cause you will be able to write books that people wants to read, which I think is quite important, but not everybody, some people don't write because they want to sell anything.
Jesper (18m 31s): So, so that's fair enough. I think it depends. I think I can cross that one off the list, right. Because it's very similar to what you just said.
Autumn (18m 37s): Yes, I think so. But you're right. It's it definitely depends on what your end goal as an author. What, what meaning a better writer, what that means to you and that might've been right. Where we started is like defining what is a better writer. Do you just pull words together? Do you tell more captivating stories? Are you selling more books? What is your definition? Start there. And then you'll at least have some goals to like, you'll know when you hit your targets.
Jesper (19m 5s): Yeah. True. Okay. So yeah, I think that that is a good one. Probably not the one that we're going to pick as the most important one, but it's good.
Autumn (19m 14s): The bottom of my list. So you want to, since we, since you had a similar one to me, do you want to pick a different one?
Jesper (19m 20s): Yeah. Yeah. So let me start with a piece of advice that you're probably seen very, very often also because a very, very famous author wrote it in a book about writing that he wrote and it is called write every day. And I was sort of wanting to discuss this one a bit because I mean, I understand the whole thinking behind this one. And of course I also fully agree and understand that to become a better writer. You have to write if you don't write you and I'm never going to get any, I mean, study, studying, writing, and listening to podcasts about writing, but not writing.
Jesper (20m 5s): It's not going to make you a better writer. It is like a muscle like, like me spraining muscles, because I don't train enough. Right. If, if I was trained enough, then it wouldn't happen. Right. So writing is the same thing. It's, it's a muscle that you need to train. So I'm fully on board with all of that. But the one thing that I'm not so sure about and which is probably also why this one shouldn't make the final selection, I guess, but it's the writing every day part because I'm less convinced about that. To be honest, if, if it works for you then great. But if it sort of stresses you out, I'm not sure it's helpful, is it?
Autumn (20m 44s): No, I agree. You shouldn't create stress. And I know I used say write every day, but recently some toss ups between exercising and then my husband getting a job, or sometimes he has to leave really early and I'm the cook. So I make him breakfast and it's like, I can't, I used to get up and I would write first thing in the morning. And if I didn't do it, then it would be all screwed up. And there's days that I'm like, okay, just deep breath, you know, do what you have to do, fit it in later. And if you don't fit it in, don't beat yourself up, you know, fit in what you can. Don't have this major goal that if you don't do it, you know, you're just going to break down and cry and come to me like I did today. So be forgiving of yourself and your writing partners, please, because life can get hectic.
Autumn (21m 28s): But I do think it helps to have a writing goal for maybe the week one that is manageable. Not like, yeah, you know, I think I used to have one. I think it was just three chapters or something. You feel accomplished to finish that many. If you go over it, you feel great. But having one that is doable, I think is more important, but maybe being creative every day. Cause I have to admit some weekends recently. I haven't been necessarily writing as much as I used to when maybe I'll find myself drawing or something a little bit more because it's the weekend and I'm going to spend time with my husband or something else. It's, it's good to be creative every day. But I agree. But also what you were saying about it being a muscle, this one is one I think I would, I would have put towards the end of my list and I do actually have right just right.
Autumn (22m 15s): Is one of the books, most important things you can do. I mean, you can be creative in a blog post an Instagram post, just be creative. But it's the, I had this conversation with some people, a lot of people like, oh, I want to wait until I'm inspired. And I understand that, but sort of what you're saying, writing is a muscle. And if you write often enough, you know, a certain goal every week when you are inspired, you can grab that and really turn out some amazing pros where if you're still a novice, because you haven't written since the last time you were inspired, which might've been a week ago, two weeks ago, whatever that was your muscles going to be kind of squishy and you're not going to do as much. It's not going to be as good.
Autumn (22m 58s): So right. Even when you're not inspired because you want to build up that muscle. So you can really pounce on those days where you have time and you're excited about it.
Jesper (23m 9s): Yeah. I agree. Fully agree.
Autumn (23m 11s): Well, go figure, we often agree on things, which is why we've had a business together for like four years.
Jesper (23m 19s): It's definitely helps. It does
Autumn (23m 20s): Help. We do not have a contentious relationship. We should just let people know that now. Yeah.
Jesper (23m 25s): We w when we are doing our top 10 worst lists and we argued about the best ones, that's a, that's like the exception that confirms the rule.
Autumn (23m 35s): Exactly. Well, we have to poke and prod each other. Do you even get a little grouchy? So it's good. Absolutely though. I still think my husband and you are going to, so team up on me when we finally get together, I'm going to, I'm going to have to be ready. I'm going to have to make friends with your wife a little bit better so that we have a strategy in place.
Jesper (23m 54s): I, I, unfortunately I don't think you will have any trouble teaming up with her. If he gets about teasing me, she will be on board right away. Awesome. I shouldn't have said that. That was a mistake. Forget about that.
Autumn (24m 7s): That's all right. I already know. I don't trust Adam. He likes undermining me. So I'm a nervous, we're not going to do the spousal podcast interview. That's just going to go back.
Jesper (24m 19s): Yeah, I know. Yeah. We don't want to go there.
Autumn (24m 22s): All right. Oh my God. Well, I could give him my next tip. And that is, if you are writing, let's say you are an inspired TA or you just actually have some real decent writing time, which doesn't happen that often. And maybe it's a Saturday and everyone's quiet in their way or whatever. If you have some good writing time and you're planning on writing for a good stint, I would say use the Pomodoro technique, which it's a technique you can Google it. There's also, somebody has renamed it tomato technique, but excuse me, it's much older. It's called the Pomodoro. And that's where you do sort of sprints where you write for a certain amount of time. And then you take like a five minute break. So maybe it's 15 5, 15 5. And then when you hit, the end of an hour is a longer break.
Autumn (25m 6s): And this really helps because you can work on something. And even when you're passionate about it, once you hit that, you know, sometimes it's different for everyone. Sometimes it's 45 minutes. Sometimes it's 90 minutes. It depends on you. Your brain is just going to be like the ideas aren't there. It's not jelling. It's starting to just be a little bit of out of reach. And so it really helps to have breaks to know that you're going to have a break. I think it's really important to keep your mind fresh. So I would really recommend that it's a good way to improving your writing overall is not to just push through for two hours, three hours, whatever you have, you need to get up stretch, move.
Autumn (25m 49s): It really helps you.
Jesper (25m 52s): Yeah, I think actually it probably dovetails very nicely with the next one I wanted to say, oh,
Autumn (25m 57s): Excellent. We might've planned that. No,
Jesper (26m 4s): Not at all. But this one is quite important to me. I think because this one was one that I've sort of learned recently because perhaps actually thinking about it, perhaps we should record a podcast episode about this in next month or something, but it's basically, I guess I could best sum it up as quality over quantity. And what I mean by that is that I've been trying over the last couple of months to try to write faster, to just see if I can get through the first draft quicker.
Jesper (26m 44s): And I think it would probably would be worth discussing it in a bit more in depth, maybe next month in a podcast episode about number one, how to write faster. But also if you are one of those people who want to write faster, what you should be mindful about, because what I learned was that the faster I wrote, the more enjoyment disappeared from my writing. And it started to feel like I was just cranking out words because I needed to crank out words rather than enjoying telling a story, which I thought was quite eye-opening for me, because I actually didn't expect that. So for me, I think if you focus more on quality than quantity, it will make you a better writer.
Jesper (27m 28s): And then that's not to say that there's anything wrong with writing faster. And some people enjoy that. That's absolutely fine. But I, I think that should probably come down the road somewhere once, you know, you know, you feel very comfortable with writing, which was the case for me, it CA I start, I want to start trying to write fast, like several years after I started writing in the first place. So probably yeah, actually five years ago, so five and a half, I think, but nevermind that. But I just think that it's, it's important to, to make sure you enjoying what you're doing. If you want to be a better writer, I guess that's how I could best word it.
Autumn (28m 12s): Yeah. I wish I could say I totally disagree, but no, I, I feel this one too. I think we both had that realization within the last year, because even when I was working on the tainted face series that I just published and I loved the books and I love the stories, but there was times I was working on it and pushing through stuff faster than I thought, you know, I knew I could even do better if I spent more time on it. If something about the whole production schedule of trying to write things so fast that you lose that enjoyment and then you start questioning, and then if the book doesn't do well, because you never know if a book is going to do well, if it does great, fantastic. But if you realize, well, I didn't enjoy it much. It's I love the story, but you know, it's not making me millions of dollars.
Autumn (28m 55s): I think I would've enjoyed writing it slower. I would have enjoyed just the process I miss, like when I was writing my debut novel. And I just wrote words for the sheer love of writing those words and describing that world. And I sometimes think even though it was my debut novel, and I think it's the worst thing I've ever written. I think there's a little bit of that soul in there and that sheer enjoyment and love of that world, that it cannot be replicated just because I want to write faster. And so I think, I agree. I think if you really want to be a good writer, no matter how fast you write it, if you're losing that soul and that wanting to be immersed in that world, you're losing something.
Autumn (29m 42s): Hmm.
Jesper (29m 43s): Okay.
Autumn (29m 43s): Well, good. Well, that kind of dovetails it. It's not the one I was going to use next, but it fits with that one. And I would say, if you want to be a better writer, you need to read which fittingly. We already mentioned the critical author reading group, hint, hint, but I hadn't, I had been not enjoying reading very much recently, but then I decided I'm reading the wrong things. And I started really upping my game and going for the Hugo award winning novels and literary fantasy, which once I hit some of those ones that were just outstanding and I fell in love with the world and the characters, and then one of the, you know, tear them apart in a good way to see why they were so good.
Autumn (30m 28s): It totally changed. Even what I was looking at in my book saying, oh gosh, you know, I used to enjoy this more. I used to do this more. I want to, especially literally the Hugo award-winning novel that we've mentioned the fifth season. It is a very high level. It is very, very close to literary fancy fantasy instead of just being epic fantasy it's, it's got some word choice and points of view that are really literary fantasy, but I loved it. Oh, my question made me think and wondering why it was working that way and just why the characters were certain ways. And I just thought this is fun. This is what I love about writing. And I think it's important, whatever it is, whatever it is about writing or reading, even that you like remember that when you're writing, because you want to pull that in.
Autumn (31m 14s): That's what you want to imbue your own writing with is those elements. And if that is intense, plotting or intense characterization, or just really beautiful words that everyone tells you kill your darlings, but you just love them. Go write your heart out. It'll make you a better writer. You might have to edit some of it out, but you know, Kevin, again, capturing that essence and often finding that inspiration of reminding you of why you were a reader, what it is about the genre that makes you love it will help you be a better writer in it.
Jesper (31m 47s): Right? Yeah. I also had study, I studied a writing of the best I also had on my list, but I was exactly what you just said. So, so that's good. But I also had, I also had reading every day as a separate line, other than study the writing of the best, because of course studying the writing of the best. Like you said, it's, it's about understanding the story structure, the tropes. And of course you will, it will increase your vocabulary as well. But there are also days where I don't get to read just like with the writing. It's not necessarily everyday I do it, but I try to read most days of the week as much as I can.
Jesper (32m 29s): I, I do try to do it. But one of the things that I often see debated, and I'm not sure I have the answer for it, to be honest, but it is whether you should stick to reading in your Shanghai or you, it's better to read very widely so that you get all kinds of other impressions about writing and so on. And I think for one, if you haven't read enough in the younger you are writing, then you need to read those because you need to understand those tropes. But if we are assuming you already understand this young rhe, then I don't necessarily think it's a bad thing to try to read a bit wider as well.
Jesper (33m 9s): We have been looking at writing some murder mystery stuff, and I've actually picked up a couple of books that has nothing to do with fantasy, but they are murder mysteries. But just because I wanted to see how let's say outside the fantasy younger people who are very, very popular and good at writing murder mysteries, how did they do it when it just from a plodding perspective that I thought that was interesting.
Autumn (33m 34s): No, I agree. And I, I agree if you're going to write in like, especially a new genre or sub-genre that you're not that familiar with, make sure you're reading a few books in it. I've coached a few authors who are like, oh, I've written this, you know, I've written 60,000 words of this novel, but I've never read a thriller before and they're writing a thriller and I'm like, oh, you know, you're and they fight me with all my advice. And I'm thinking, just, please go read one, one of them before you turn away all my advice. But
Jesper (34m 5s): Yeah, if you haven't, if you haven't read it before, then don't try to write it. That's for sure.
Autumn (34m 11s): You will. You will. If your book takes off and you have never read a single series or novel in what you're writing, it's going to be a miracle because mostly readers, they have things they expect. And if you are not familiar with those aspects, I think that might even be first person versus third person. Point of view. When I wrote my first dystopian story, almost every dystopian story is in first person. And I don't really like it. And if it entered my head that, you know, this is what the genre expects. I probably never would have even tried it, but you can always learn from those genres and you can pool, like you're saying, murder mystery is you can do a murder mystery fantasy. You can criminal thriller fantasy, you know, Charlotte Holmes meets fantasy.
Autumn (34m 52s): These are becoming sort of a mishmash that people like it's okay to mix up tropes and mix up some of your storytelling as long as you're doing it well. And also realizing that, you know, maybe some mashups might not work well, a cozy mystery with like dark gallows murderer, you know, like, no, you know, there's a few things that maybe the readers of each John rhe are not going to like each other. So there are those elements, but otherwise, yeah, you can learn and get really exciting tidbits. I mean, you want to learn to do some foreshadowing, read some murder mysteries. They're fantastic. They do such a good job to make you sit there and try to figure it out.
Jesper (35m 36s): Absolutely. Okay. Do you have any more on your list? Oh, you actually
Autumn (35m 39s): Have a few. It was
Jesper (35m 43s): Still
Autumn (35m 44s): Good. All right. Yeah. So my next one to be a better writer. This is a very simple one, but I think it's very important. Turn off your wifi. Or if you really think you're going to have to Google something, make sure you turn off all your social media apps, hide your phone, give it to your, your five-year-old and make sure he can't buy anything from Amazon while you're, while mother holding it. But even if you have to use those apps that keep you locked out of your social media accounts for like half an hour, do that because you need to focus on writing when you're actually writing you, can't get that little wall and moment of distraction and just go and automatically jump to Instagram. It's not going to help you.
Jesper (36m 24s): Actually, I will say that I don't have that problem. You know, when I, when I write, I don't end up spending all the time on Facebook or something instead. So, but I do do understand, I know a lot of people do have that problem. So, so in that sense, for sure, but it's called it, of course also depends on the individual person, whether or not that's a problem or not. But I think what I also had on my list, which is basically, I think it's the same root explanation or root cause for becoming a better writer as you were, you were just saying, and it is basically about respecting your writing time, right?
Jesper (37m 4s): So if you, you mentioned early on, maybe set some weekly writing goals or something that, you know, keep the promises that you make with yourself and follow through on those and respect your writing time. So did you actually get that done instead of spending all your time on Instagram or YouTube or something? So I think that's the core
Autumn (37m 23s): Of it. Yeah, I agree.
Jesper (37m 28s): Okay, good. Well, that actually crossed one more of my list because that was the same thing I was going to say. But then I want to say something else because well, we, we trade in this stuff ourselves, but, and that's not why I'm saying it. I'm saying it because I think it's important, but educate yourself is on my list because you have to do the writing at the same time. Of course, like we said before, listening to podcasts or taking writing courses will not teach you how to write unless you're writing. But I do think it is very, very well spent money. If you try to, while you are writing also educating yourself, you know, take some online courses. So we have several of them.
Jesper (38m 9s): If you want to take some online courses and try to learn, because it will improve your writing a lot.
Autumn (38m 17s): Yes. And I, of course, that's it. Yes. Between the books we have and the education you could tell. I mean, part of the reason the first writing course we developed came from the fact that I took two adult ed writing courses at my local place in Maine. And they were just so, and they were not devoted to fantasy. They were devoted more to memoirs and there was times they were ripping apart the fantasy writers in the group for doing stuff. And I just wanted to know why, you know, how am I supposed to write this? Then if obviously these people are not teaching me and that pain, it led to a course for fantasy writers because you know, someone needs to teach this.
Autumn (38m 59s): It's, there's so much to learn in so many tips and so many ways of doing things and developing characters. And it's good to be curious, pick up a book, could pick up a chorus, you know, spend some time reading blog posts. We have a ton of blog. We have like 200 blog posts on the I'm writing phases of website. It's insane. Let's be Like, no, we got some stuff for you. The free, just go listen. And it'll make you curious. It'll make things spark. Just sort of like reading books in your mind. So I agree this one was on my list. So this time I get to cross it off, but yes, educate yourself. Be curious about the craft and learn to do it better as a very important thing. I think to add to that.
Autumn (39m 39s): And it sort of went well with what I was, we were both been saying about goals and stuff is to develop a routine and honor it. Like you said, if you can say, this is my writing time, just like how I said, normally I have to go, I'm going through a change that hasn't clicked fully into place. But my writing time used to be first thing in the morning, get my tea, go and write for an hour or so. And now that's, I've gotten old jumbled and I have yet to figure it out. That's stressing me out a little bit, but that's okay because it's a change. I had a writing time that I honored and that worked for me. And before that, when I had my full-time job, I would get home, give my husband and kids, get my tea and I'd write for 45 minutes. And that's how I did like 12 books, 45 minutes a night after I got home, I was like, hi, hi, nice to see you.
Autumn (40m 21s): Bye-bye I'm going to go right now. It's just that you have to get your family to understand, or at least to leave you alone and turn off your wifi, or at least your social media apps. If you have a tendency to try to distract yourself with them, but I were teens, whatever it is, sometimes you need that too, to like sink into, okay, it's my writing time for me, it was getting a cup of tea, but maybe you need to listen to music. I used to have a PA page of George R. Martin that I just thought was like the most beautiful imagery in the world. And I'd read that. And then I'd be like, yes, I am ready to write, to find those cues that tell your brain. Now it is time to turn on the writing and settle into that and have it and get your mind used to it.
Autumn (41m 1s): So that way, if you don't have it sort of like I recently have had my little hiccup, you miss it, you really crave it. And that's, that's a good thing.
Jesper (41m 13s): Okay. Yeah. And also along the lines of educating yourself, then I would say, learn how to make sure that every single chapter
Autumn (41m 26s): That's a good one. I agree, actually, that kind of goes with the wires.
Jesper (41m 31s): Yeah. Yeah. It's very aligned with what we've already said, but then still it's just slightly different, but if you can grab the reader in every chapter, we will definitely be a better writer for sure.
Autumn (41m 42s): Because it's sort of going along with that, I actually have learned to plot because I do think Panthers can write well, but I think understanding plot and plot structure is something that will make you a better writer. And whether that once the fall under education or, you know, learning to make chapters that are really gripping, those are like some of the techniques that I think you need to educate and read how other authors do it, figure it out. And by unpacking those specific techniques of writing really gripping chapters or learning to write a really engaging plot, that's character driven. When you understand those really core techniques, you will be a better writer as well. And I think it does take a couple of books and some education and some thinking to realize how that brainstorm moment of, oh, this is how it all comes together.
Autumn (42m 30s): And when that happens, you're will be a bunch stronger writer.
Jesper (42m 36s): Yeah, absolutely. I only have one more on my list or
Autumn (42m 39s): One more on my list. That's a really funny,
Jesper (42m 42s): Ah, there
Autumn (42m 42s): You go. All right. So let's see. All right.
Jesper (42m 47s): Minus something that I've actually talked about several times on the podcast before, but it is about getting feedback, but it comes with a caveat. And this is the part that I've said on previous episodes, because be very, very careful not to ask for feedback from a lot of different people, because especially when you're starting out, you don't know what is good feedback and what is bad feedback. And also if you're getting feedback from a lot of people, you'll get a lot of conflicting feedback, which is not very helpful either because you don't know which ones is correct, and which ones are wrong because you don't have the experience. So I would say, preferably, if, of course this is going to cost them money.
Jesper (43m 29s): But if you can, it's best to work with a developmental editor who can, who knows what they're talking about and they can help you. That would be the, by far the best thing. But if you can't afford that, then pick maximum one or two writers who you trust and who, you know, have a proven track record, meaning that they know what they're doing. And then listen to what those one or two people are saying and nothing else, but to get some feedback, because if you're writing in isolation, it's very difficult to understand, you know, you might, well, you might be the blind leading the blind kind of situation.
Jesper (44m 13s): I mean, you're just stumbling a heaven. You don't quite know. And that's not to say that it can't work. It can, but you might end up writing five bad books that nobody likes. And then you'll sort of figure it out, but getting some feedback from somebody who knows what they're doing. And couple that with educating yourself, then I think you will get to a better place much, much faster than if you don't do these things.
Autumn (44m 40s): Oh yeah. I agree. I can't believe I didn't include feedback in my list, but that is really true. And what you said is very true. I mean, you want to choose who you get feedback from. It should be like an author. You respect, if you can't afford it, a writing coach or a developmental editor will be worth their weight, especially for your first, maybe not your first book, maybe. I mean, that'd be fantastic, but even your second or third, whenever you can afford it, it's worth it because otherwise you can't see, you know that about your life. You can't see your own blind spots because they're blind spots where someone else will read it and be like, oh, this is where you're doing it wrong. But if you don't get someone That's a good day, came up with that.
Autumn (45m 23s): One knew what they were talking about. But yeah, it's, if you get too many other people or maybe beta readers or people who just like, oh, I don't like it. And they don't give you very specific feedback because they don't really understand plotting and structure and character development. That's not going to help you learn. It might just make you really frustrated or even steer you in the wrong direction. Just trying to write something that, you know, someone who absolutely adored Twilight loved. And you're suddenly trying to write Twilight when you were more going towards, you know, token, it's not gonna really help you improve. It's just changing your direction. All right. So my last one, which is kind of a strange one, maybe, but it's okay to do something inspiring, just, you know, exercise, take a walk and movement really loosens up your ideas as well as your body.
Autumn (46m 16s): So my last one is actually do something that'll inspire you and keep your creativity growing. And along with that, kind of like tailor to it, keep a notebook with you. If at all possible you want to be able to capture ideas and remember to look at them and maybe organize them, put them in a Scrivener file or something. You don't want a couple of ideas and never look at them again. That's not the point, but if you can get out and do something different and creative fun with your family, make up stories, whatever it is, that'll let you know, that'll loosen up your ideas in everything. And you will be surprised at what comes, but if you don't remember to write them down, you will lose them and that's not going to help you either. So make sure you have some way of taking notes and go do something fun.
Jesper (47m 1s): I don't know if we can do this autumn, but does any of all of these advices sort of stick out to you as the most important one?
Autumn (47m 11s): I don't know. It's like part of me wants to say educate yourself. I think being curious about how to be a better writer is going to make you a better writer very quickly, because you're curious about it. So you're learning. But I also think having goals like weekly goals that really helped me, I guess that…